Matthew Offord, UK Conservative MP and chairman of the Illicit Trade All-Party Parliamentary Group, mentioned cigarettes in a recent article warning about the proliferation of illicit goods at Christmas. He reminded readers that the illicit cigarette trade was linked to more serious organised crime, such as drug and human trafficking.
According to the KPMG 2017 Project Sun report, counterfeit and contraband cigarette trade in Europe represents a €10bn business, and as much tax revenue loss for EU member states. As Offord puts it, buying from the illicit market is often perceived as a victimless crime, when in reality this money also goes into financing criminal networks. While there is a need to better inform consumers about this reality, European states also have a responsibility. By sharply and rapidly increasing tobacco prices across Europe, EU member states are directly encouraging smuggling.
ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said: “Counterfeit tobacco products represent an important loss of tax revenues as well as a financial windfall for criminal networks. Governments must discourage consumers from purchasing illicit products by allowing for less expensive alternatives. It is essential to ensure the affordability of fine-cut tobacco products in order to maintain a buffer between legal and illegal trade.”
Read more on illegal trade and product tracing here.